Arsenal v BATE Borisov Preview: No pressure on the Gunners with qualification assured

The Gunners go up against the Belarus outfit, with BATE needing a result at the Emirates to qualify from Group H.

Arsenal v BATE
Borisov Preview: No pressure on the Gunners with qualification assured
Knockout stages next up! (Image by David Price/GettyImages)

Arsenal have the task of seeing out their UEFA Europa League group stage in a professional manner, when they welcome BATE Borisov to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.

Arsene Wenger's side have already qualified from Group H, and have topped the group with a game to spare in what has been an impressive campaign thus far in Europe.

Though, defeat last time out away at FC Koln, brought an end to Arsenal's unbeaten run during the competition, with Wenger surely wanting his side to see the group out with a bang.

Another chance for the young guns to shine?

Throughout this Europa League campaign so far, Arsenal fans have got the chance to see some of the stars of the future at the Emirates.

Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah have all had opportunities so far on the European stage, as Wenger has found the perfect balance of youth and experience during the group stages.

Whether or not this will continue, once Arsenal find out their opponents for the last 32 is another question. Though there is definite faith shown by Wenger so far in the club's younger generation, and you can bet that Thursday night we will be seeing these bright faces again.

Big night for Walcott and Wilshere?

In the build-up to Thursday night's game, Wenger confirmed in his press conference that both Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott will be starting at the Emirates.

Walcott has not featured for the Gunners since the 0-0 draw on Matchday 4 at home to Red Star Belgrade, and has been nowhere near the first team in the Premier League. If anything, this really is a make-or-break few months for the England striker, as he is finding himself falling more and more down the pecking order at the Emirates.

Same could be said for Wilshere, with January approaching, the midfielder might have to reconsider his options, as like Walcott, Wilshere is struggling to get anywhere near the first eleven at the moment.

 

Thursday's game is a big chance for the pair to really put themselves in Wenger's plans for the upcoming successive Premier League games, first on Sunday away at Southampton, then in midweek, away at West Ham.

The last encounter…

Arsenal and BATE both met on Matchday 2 of the competition, where three quick-fire first half goals, all but won the game for the Gunners, thanks to a brace from Walcott and a first Arsenal goal for Rob Holding.

Though, the Belarusian side did pull a couple of goals back, the night will most fondly be remembered for Olivier Giroud grabbing his 100th goal for the club.

Giroud scored Arsenal's fourth of the night from the spot, as it ended 4-2 in an exciting early tea-time clash, here's to more of the same on Thursday night.

Team news

As mentioned earlier, both Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott have been confirmed starters by Wenger, for Arsenal's final group stage game.

Olivier Giroud is also expected to start as well, as Wenger rings in the changes once more.

Skhodran Mustafi limped off during Arsenal's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United at the weekend, and is out of Thursday's game. Though, Wenger says that the German's injury isn't too serious.